January 3, 2008

I realized about a month ago that a lot of the stress I’ve been carrying around with me for the past couple of years has been due to the fact that I’ve been doing everything except what I really wanted to do. So I’ve finally committed myself to it to the point that I’m willing to say it out loud: I’m writing a book.

It’s about the times I’ve spent in the Middle East, mostly in Palestine and Israel. All the stories are true, and my goal is for the book to read like a (non-fiction) novel rather than like a piece of journalism.

I’ll be heading back to my home town in Oklahoma for two months of full-time writing. Hopefully by April I’ll have an agent and a working draft, after which finals edits shouldn’t be nearly as time-consuming as preliminary edits, and securing a publisher will be largely in the hands of my agent. Most of the book is already written, it’s just in a million pieces that need to be strung together, filled out, and edited. But it won’t get done unless I cloister myself for a while and bang it out. There’s not even a bar in my home town, so distractions shouldn’t be an issue.

I’m all ears if any of you have friends in the writing or publishing world. It’s one thing to write a book, another to get it published, and yet another to get the best possible deal. I’m doing research on my own, but I would appreciate any advice from folks who’ve been at this longer than I have.

Also, let me know if you might be willing to read pieces of draft now and then for readability, clarity, and entertainment value. I’d appreciate help to make sure it doesn’t get ranty, confusing, or dull, because it’s easy for me to get caught up in my own context and lose sight of the sensibilities of my target audience. My target audience is any people, but particularly Americans, who have interest in Israel and Palestine, the Middle East, the Arab and Muslim worlds, foreign lands in general, or just good storytelling. Anyone from Middle East experts to people who aren’t quite sure who is occupying whom.

All my best for 2008, and please don’t be strangers. I’ll be locked away in an upstairs room this February and March, so contact with the outside world will be greatly appreciated.